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February 2009 Free Flatpicking Lesson
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

Carter Style and Beyond

This month I thought that I’d give our regular e-news instructor, Mickey Abraham, a break and share with everyone a small excerpt from the newly released book from Flatpicking Guitar Magazine titled Flatpicking Essentials, Volume 2: Learning to Solo—Carter Style and Beyond. This 108-page second volume builds on the material that was presented in Volume 1, which addressed rhythm, bass runs, and fill licks.

I have always thought that if a guitar student had a solid foundation in playing rhythm and working with bass runs and rhythm fill licks, that a very natural progression when stepping from rhythm playing to lead playing would be the Carter style of lead playing. In the Carter style you are executing the same right and left hand techniques that were taught in Volume 1 of the course when the students worked extensively with bass runs and strums in the context of playing rhythm. The only difference is that in the Carter style the bass runs will be replaced by a melody line. So, my thought was that if a student gained a good level of skill and experience in the execution of bass runs and strums while working with Volume 1, they would be ready to move on and play Carter style lead. But Carter style lead is not where Volume 2 begins or ends!

In Volume 2 of the Flatpicking Essentials series, the students will apply six fundamental steps to each song that will teach them how to create their own solos to vocal tunes. These steps are:

1) Select a Vocal Song
2) Learn the Chord Progression by Ear
3) Learn the Basic Melody by Ear
4) Find the Carter Style Arrangement
5) Learn How to Simplify the Melody
6) Embellish the Carter Style Arrangement using techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, alternate chord strums, tremolo, double stops, crosspicking, neighboring notes, scale runs, drones, and fill licks.

In Volume 2, students are shown in detail how to work each of these steps and all of the techniques using brad new arrangements of 36 different popular vocal tunes.

In this E-News Lesson, I will present a basic Carter style version of the tune “Old Spinning Wheel” that is taken from the book (Step 4 above), and then I will present another version, which is presented later in the book after the students have learned how to practice and apply the various techniques of Step 6 above. Of course, in this E-News Lesson you are missing all of the information and examples that are provided in Steps 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6. However, if this short lesson sparks your interest in learning how to apply all of these steps, one-by-one, to the 36 tunes presented in the book, as well as any other tune that you may want to learn, check out this new book at http://www.flatpickingmercantile.com.

On the two pages that follow you will see a basic Carter style arrangement of “Old Spinning Wheel”, after that I’ll present you with the more complex variation that makes use of many of the techniques that are taught in Volume 2. In Volume 2 of Flatpicking Essentials each of these techniques is described in great detail with exercises to help you learn the technique and examples of how to apply each technique to specific songs.

"Spinning Wheel"

Spinning Wheel

Spinning Wheel

Spinning Wheel

Spinning Wheel